A linguistic approach to intuition in translation
thesisposted on 26.09.2012, 10:20 by William Bowler
In literary translation 'correctness' is rarely ratified by linguistic rules; it is more often a question of what a sensitive translator feels to be correct. Intuition will therefore play a major part. This intuition is seen here neither as instinctive reaction prompted by experience, nor as native competence, but as an inquiring, self-moderating influence inspired by the language itself. It is treated in this respect as an informed intuition, that is, as having a linguistic base for sensitive judgement. This assumes that the literary translator is both a creative writer and his own critical reader as well as a fine judge of language potential. This line is applied to translating meaning and sense, transferring the very language, imitating the form and style, re-creating the features, and above all, to capturing those unique qualities of the original. After dealing with word-accuracy, the question of literary input demanded by form and style is examined. The treatment of language used for effect features in a section on Kafka. The merits and the problems of translating dialect as dialect for its own sake are looked at closely and in a positive way as are the possibilities of reproducing 'oddities' of language. The immense task of translating the language of Joyce ('Ulysses ') with all its vagaries and skilful manipulation of words is examined for the possibility of providing an accurate copy. The ultimate test of reproducing a uniqueness of artistic creation together with the profound thought which inspired it, is reserved for a section on Hopkins. While it is recognized that, owing to the constrictions imposed by the extreme and sensitive use of language, no translation can fully include all that there is in his poems, it might be possible to capture enough of their essence to give an impression of a 'German' Hopkins at work. A major objective throughout is the establishment of a linguistic base for the part played by intuition in literary translation.
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